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Wrexham’s oldest known clocks are returning to the town where they were made thanks to a special three-way partnership between the Grosvenor Museum, Chester; St Fagans: National History Museum and Wrexham County Borough Museum & Archives.

The older timepiece is a lantern clock made by Joseph Billington, a clockmaker based on the High Street, Wrexham. Billington was a freeman of the city of Chester and a member of the city’s Goldsmiths Company. The clock is thought to date to about 1670.

The younger timepiece is the only known example of a lantern clock from the workshop of Thomas Hampson, Wrexham’s most noted clockmaker. The lantern clock has been dated to approximately 1735-40 and would have been made at Hampson’s workshop, now the site of the Butchers’ Market.

Lantern clocks were the clocks found in people’s homes in the 17th and early 18th centuries before they went out of fashion following the invention of the long case or grandfather clock. While only the wealthier middle class, gentry and aristocracy could afford a lantern clock, the number of clockmakers in Wrexham during this period is proof that there were enough wealthy people in north-east Wales to support a thriving clock industry in the century following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

John Gammond, Access & Interpretation Officer at Wrexham Museum said “While researching for the Telling the Time exhibition we learned of the existence of these clocks and it seemed timely to show them in the exhibition alongside the long case clocks from Wrexham Museum’s collection. Welsh lantern clocks are incredibly rare and it is significant that both were made in Wrexham, the largest town in Wales at the time.

We would like to acknowledge Peter Boughton, Keeper of Art at the Grosvenor Museum, Chester and Dylan Jones, Collections Manager at St Fagans: National History Museum for their help in arranging the loan of the two lantern clocks for this exhibition.”

The two clocks will be on display from Wednesday, 9th July until the end of the Telling the Time exhibition on September 6th. Admission is free.

For more information, tel. 01978 297 460